London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 14 August 2008 – The Rio Tinto Group – the world’s third-largest mining company – plans to launch an international exploration initiative for iron ore assets with India’s largest iron ore company, NMDC Limited.
Confirming this in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from Melbourne, Rio Tinto spokesman Ian Head said: “We are in discussions with them about a memorandum of understanding.” NMDC chairman Rana Som endorsed this statement in an interview from Hyderabad, saying: “We are planning to jointly look for virgin assets.” He was even more positive, adding that “an agreement will be signed on 18 August 2008.”
Hyderabad- based NMDC issued a tender earlier this year seeking global partners to buy mines overseas. Rio Tinto is seeking to tap India’s iron-ore reserves – the fifth-biggest in the world – as it plans to triple production to 600 million tpa with expansions in Australia, Guinea and Brazil.
Bloomberg reports that iron- ore prices have increased almost fourfold since 2001 to a record high because of surging demand from China, prompting companies such as Rio and NMDC to expand their holdings.